Haniyeh: PA will pay gov't salaries

Pledge comes in the wake of mass protest by Palestinian gov't workers.

haniyeh good 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
haniyeh good 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh announced on Tuesday that his government would pay the salaries of tens of thousands of public workers, but did not say where the money would come from. Haniyeh declared that about 40,000 public employees who make 1,500 shekels or less will be paid one-month's salary. Higher earners will receive an advance of 1,500 shekels, he added. The salaries of 165,000 government workers are three months overdue because the Hamas-led PA is broke due to crippling international sanctions. The PA prime minister's pledge came in the wake of a mass protest by thousands of Palestinian government workers who rallied outside the Cabinet building earlier on Tuesday, demanding they be paid their salaries. It was the largest workers' protest since Hamas came to power in March. "Until when?" read a sign carried by workers in the Ramallah protest. Others filled a large cooking pot with stones, to illustrate the workers' increasingly dire situation. Tuesday's protest was organized by the Palestinian Authority Employees Union, an organization considered sympathetic to Fatah. The head of the union, Bassam Zakarneh, said he has sent a letter to the government, demanding payment of the salaries. Hamas needs about $160 million a month to cover the public payroll and government operating costs. The government has not paid the salaries of March, April and May. Zakarneh said the employees would soon step up their protests and hold strikes. One of the protesters, Mohammed Taleb, said he could no longer provide for his 11 children and was living from handouts. "They forgot us. They are busy with politics," said Taleb, an employee in the Transportation Ministry. Khotam Baker, an employee in the Education Ministry, said her daughter's private school refused to admit her to matriculation exams because she owed the school $500.